- Category : Writers-Religion-Philosophy
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (56)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Informing 2
Russian writer on the Fourth Way esotherism of Gurdjieff and philosopher.
Ouspenskii grew up in uncertain times, privately as well socially. He grew up in the unstable Russia of Alexander III, who came to power 13 March 1881 (NS) after the murder on his father. Ouspenskii's father died when he was a preschool child. When he went to his grandparents, his grandfather, a churchpainter, died.
According to his memoirs, he had read books of Lermontoff and Turgenieff by the age of six. At age 8 he got interested in natural science, at age 13 he became interested in dreams and psychology . When bored at Second Moscow Gymnasium that he attended since 1890, he studied textbooks of physics. At age 16 he was sent away from school for painting graffiti. After that he went his own way and became an autodidact. He distrusted all academic and religious education and became anarchistically inclined : Scientist, were killing science, just like priests were killing religion. Actually he distrusted all educators, as they spoiled the innocent mind of the child. He discovered Nietzsche, became a free listener at the Moscow University, and tried to find his place in the adult world.
He wrote about it in his parly autobiographical novel the Strange Life of Ivan Osokin. In this educational novel, the hero was granted the opportunity to redo his life again, with the prior knowledge of his earlier made faults. Piece of a cake, one might think; but he discovered that human behaviour is most of the time unconscious and mechanical, and that conscious living was that difficult, that one needs a lot of practice and the help of a spiritual leader (magician) to get out of the old automatic habits. This insight was called the Fourth way, leading to a spiritual Fifth (release from Above) event.
In 1906 he worked as an editor of the Moscow daily paper "The Morning". In 1907 he discovered the forbidden theosophical literature and made the distinction between the ordinary "transient" facts of life and the more invisible the "us" or "persons" eternally stimulating higher dimensions. In 1909 he moved from Moscow to St. Petersburg, where he gave public lectures on occult subjects as the Tarot, Yogis and Superman. In the translation of "Tertium Organum" (1912) he wrote:
"As in these particular cases, so also in general in relation to all motion in the material world, the basis of which, according to the 'positivists' is the motion of the minutest particles of matter. While recognizing this motion as illusory, we must ask whether the illusion of this motion is not created by some motion inside our consciousness. It must be so. And, having established this, we must try to determine which kind of motion goes on inside our consciousness, i.e. what is moving and in relation to what? .. .H. P. Blavatsky, in her first book Isis Unveiled touched upon the same question of the relation of life to time and to motion. She wrote: As our planet revolves once every year around the sun and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros."
In the autumn of 1913, he travelled to India and Ceylon in search of the miraculous, but as WWI started August 1913, he was forced to go back and via London, Norway and Finland, he reached St. Petersburg in November 1914. Early 1915 he gave lectures about his travels "In Search of the Miraculous" attended by over a thousand people. After 1915 Easter he went to Moscow to give more lectures. Here he met George Gurdjieff and his wife Sophie Grigorievna Volochine (8 November 1878, Kharkoff - 30 December 1961, Mendham, New Jersey, USA).
Before Ouspenskii met Gurdjieff, he had published the books "The Fourth Dimension" (1909), Tertium Organum (1912) and had written the base articles of "A New Model of the Universe" in 1914. In this book he explains "The idea of esotericism" as implying "that the very great majority of our ideas are not the product of evolution but the product of the degeneration of ideas which existed at some time or are still existing somewhere in much higher, purer and more complete forms."
At that time, Ouspenskii was an independent thinker and acknowledged lecturer on esoteric subjects, thus more a sparring partner than a pupil of Gurdjieff, and he made this also clear to Gurdjieff: As a writer he had to remain free to write what he thought and learned from others and that he could not promise to keep secret anything which he learned from Gurdjieff. Moreover, Ouspenskii was a much better formulating writer than Gurdjieff or "G" as he called him, who was a great story teller of not that reliable anecdotes in his few books, but who lacked any feeling for systematics. For this reason, Ouspenskii posthumously published book "In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching" (1949) is "widely regarded as the most comprehensive account of Gurdjieff's system of thought ever published". It is of interest that Ouspenskii's original title was "Fragments of an Unknown Teaching", referring to the incompleteness of it and to the book of his friend G.R.S. Mead "Fragments of a Faith Forgotten" about the almost forgotten Hermeticism and Gnostic knowledge, which he saw as important Gurdjieff's sources.
Ouspenskii joined Gurdjieff, but after three years of intensively doing "the work", he got tired of the megalomaniac playing for G'd of "G": "He said that O. never realised that he had been given a shock in order to overcome what he called "a note in the side octave" which had to do with O.'s view of himself, and that he did not want to lower himself. G. explained that by refusing to bow his head, O. would be exposed to other laws, which would hinder his development (from: Secret Talks with Gurdjieff)".
After the Russian revolution (March 1917), Ouspenskii travelled to London via Istanbul (1921). Gurdjieff was not allowed to follow him, and finally settled down in Fontainebleau-Avon, France with the financial aids of Ouspenskii and his spiritual friends in "good old" England. Here, Gurdjieff founded his "Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man". But Gurdjieff took again on the role of all-knowing guru and leader, and demanded absolute obedience and secretiveness of his followers.
Ouspensky discontinued the association with Gurdjieff and set up "The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology" (The Study Society).
In 1947 he became very depressed. He took to escaping from students in his car with his "wise" cats.
He died 2 October 1947 in Lyne Place, Surrey, England. He lived here, near and at Holloway Sanatorium between 1930 and 1947.